Skip to main content

Full text of "Samuel Johnston, governor of North Carolina, 1787-1789"

^ 

•^■5^ 




LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



014 423 508 3 • 






F 258 

. J72 
Copy 1 



SAMUEL JOHNSTON 



GOVERNOR OF 
NORTH CAROLINA 

1787-1789 



R. D. W. CONNOR 

Socrotary of the North Carolina 
Tlistorical Commisaion 



SAMUEL JOHNSTON 

Governor of North Carolina 
1787-1789 



'^PYJO^ 



. y 

R. D. W.^'CONNOR 

M 

Secretary of the North Carolina 
Historical Commission 



Raleigh 
Edwardb & Brocohton Pristino Company 

1912 



D 



F"2 5 8 



In Ffxchanga 
SEP 2 7 1933 



I SAMUEL JOHNSTON 



5^ 



Governor of North Carolina 



Bt R. D. W. CONNOR. 
Secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission. 



On tbo east coast of Scotland, twelve miles from the con- 
fluence of the Firth of Tay with the German Ocean, lies the 
ancient town of Dundee, in population third, in commercial 
importance second among the cities of Scotland. The gen- 
eral appearance of Dundee, we are told, is picturesque and 
pleasing, and its surrounding scenery beautiful and inspiring. 
Thrift, intelligence, and independence are characteristics of 
its inhabitants. It is noted for its varied industrial enter- 
prises, and from time immemorial has been famous among the 
cities of Britain for its extensive linen manufactures. A long 
line of men eminent in war, in statecraft, in law, and in let- 
ters adorns its annals. Its history carries us back to the time 
of the Crusades. In the twelfth century it received a charter 
from the hand of William the Lion. Within its walls Wil- 
liam Wallace was educated, and there he struck his first blow 
against the domination of England. In the great Reforma- 
tion of the sixteenth century its inhabitants took such an 
active and leading part as to earn for their town the appella- 
tion of "the Scottish Geneva." During the civil wars of the 
following century they twice gave over their property to pil- 
lage and themselves to massacre rather than submit to the 
tyranny of the House of Stuart. But in every crisis the in- 
domitable spirit of Dundee rose superior to disaster and her 
people adhered to their convictions with a loyalty that never 
faltered and a faith that never failed.^ 

'An address delivered before the Grand Lo<l(!c of Masons, in the Masonic Temple, 
RaleiKh, January 10, 1912, upon the presentation to the .State by the Orand LodRC of a 
marble buat of Governor Samuel Johnston, first Grand Master of Masons of North Carolina. 

'Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th cd., VII, 534-36. 



4 Samuel Johnstox. 

In this fine old city, among its true and loyal people, the 
ancestors of Samnel Johnston lived, and here, in 1733, be 
himself was born.^ The spirit of Dundee, its loyalty to prin- 
ciple, its unconquerable courage, and its inflexible adherence 
to duty, entered into his soul at his very birth, and developed 
and strengthened as he grew in years and in powers of body 
and mind. Throughout his life he displayed in public and 
in private affairs many of those qualities of mind and char- 
acter which have given the Scotch, though small in number, 
such a large place in the world's history. Says Mr. Henry 
Cabot Lodge, "six centuries of bitter struggle for life and in- 
dependence, waged continuously against nature and man, not 
only made the Scotch formidable in battle, renowned in every 
camp in Europe, but developed qualities of mind and charac- 
ter which became inseparable from the race. * * * 
Under the stress of all these centuries of trial they learned 
to be patient and persistent, with a fixity of purpose which 
never weakened, a tenacity which never slackened, and a de- 
termination which never wavered. The Scotch intellect, 
jiassing through the same severe ordeals, as it was quickened, 
tempered, and sharpened, so it acquired a certain relentless- 
ness in reasoning which it never lost. It emerged at last com- 
plete, vigorous, acute, and penetrating. With all these strong 
qualities of mind and character was joined an intensity of 
conviction which burned beneath the cool and calculating 
manner of which the stern and unmoved exterior gave no 
sign, like the fire of a furnace, rarely flaming, but giving 
forth a fierce and lasting heat." * Had the author of these 
fine lines had the character of Samuel Johnston in his mind's 



'McRee says December 15, 1733. — Life and Correspondence of James Iredell, I, 37. John- 
ston himself writing to his sister, Mrs. Iredell, January 24, 1794, says: "Yesterday 
finished my sixty-first birthday."— Ms. letter in C. E. Johnson Mss. Collections of the North 
Carolina Historical Commis.sion. But Samuel Johnston, Sr., writing to Samuel Johnston, 
Jr., in a letter dated ' ' Newborn, 17th, 17.54," month omitted, says: ' ' I give you joy of your 
being of age last Sunday."— Copy of letter in Collections of the N. C. Hist. Com. Original 
in the library at ' ' Hayes." 

^Address in the United States Senate, March 12, 1910, at the presentation to the United 
States bv the Stat« of South Carolina of a statue of John C. Calhoun. 



Sa.mukl Juii.n>t()N. 5 

eye, as he did have that of another eminent Scotch-descended 
Carolinian, his description could not have been more accu- 
rate. 

In the great crises of our history in which he figured so 
largely, immediately preceding and immediately following 
the American Revolution, Samuel Johnston, with keen pene- 
trating vision, saw more clearly than any of his colleagues 
the true nature of the problem confronting them. This prob- 
lem was, on the one hand, to preserve in America the funda- 
mental principles of English liberty against the encroach- 
ments of the British Parliament, and on the other, to secure 
the guarantees of law and order against the well-meant but 
ill-considered schemes of honest but ignorant refonners. For 
a full quarter of a century he pursued both of these ends, pa- 
tiently and persistently, "with a fixity of purpose which never 
weakened, a tenacity which never slackened, and a determina- 
tion which never wavered." IN^either the wrath of a royal 
governor, threatening withdrawal of royal favor and depriva- 
tion of office, nor the fierce and unjust denunciations of party 
leaders, menacing him with loss of popular support and de- 
feat at the polls, could swerve him one inch from the path of 
the public good as he understood it. Beneath his cool and 
calculating manner burned "an intensity of conviction" which 
gave him in the fullest degree that rarest of all virtues in men 
who serve the public — I mean courage, courage to fight the 
battles of the people, if need be, against the people themselves. 
Of course Johnston never questioned the right of the people 
to decide public affairs as they chose, but he frequently 
doubted the wisdom of their decisions ; and when such a 
doubt arose in his mind he spoke his sentiments without fear 
or favor and no appeal or threat could move him. He was 
ready on all such occasions to maintain his p(x<itions with a 
"relentlessness in reasoning" that carried conviction and out 
of defeat invariably wrung ultimate victory. More than 



6 Samuel Johnston. 

once in his ])nblic career the people, when confronted by his 
immovable will, in fits of party passion discarded his leader- 
ship for that of more compliant leaders ; but only in their 
calmer moments to tnrn to him again to point the way out 
of the mazes into which their folly had entangled them. 

A Scotchman by birth, Samuel Johnston was fortunate in 
his ancestral inheritance ; an American by adoption, he was 
equally fortunate in his rearing and education. In early in- 
fancy^ his lot was cast in ISForth Carolina, the most demo- 
cratic of the American colonies, and whatever tendency this 
fact may have given him toward democratic ideals was later 
strengthened by a Xew England education and by his legal 
studies.^ At the age of twenty-one he became a resident of 
Edenton, then a small village of four or five hundred inhabi- 
tants, but the industrial, political, and social center for a 
large and fertile section of the province. Its leading inhabi- 
tants were men and women of wealth, education, and culture. 
Their social intercourse was easy, simple, and cordial. Cards, 
billiards, backgammon, dancing, tea drinking, hunting, fish- 
ing, and other outdoor sports, were their chief amusements. 
They read with appreciative insight the best literature of the 
day, made themselves familiar with the philosophy of 



^In his third year. His parents, Samuel and Helen (Scrymoure) Johnston came to 
North Carolina some time prior to May 25, 1735. — Colonial Records of North Carolina, 
IV, 9. They probably accompanied Samuel's brother, Gabriel, who become governor of 
the colony,' November 2, 1734. McRee incorrectly gives the name of CJovernor Samuel 
Johnston's father as John.— Iredell, I, 36. Letters of his at ' ' Hayes" show that his name 
was Samuel. See also Cirimes: Abstracts of North Carolina Wills, 187, 188; and Col. Rec. 
IV, lOSO, 1110. He resided in Onslow county, but owned large tracts of land not only in 
Onslow, but also in Craven, Bladen, New Hanover, and Chowan.— Col. Rec, IV, 72, 219, 
222, 329, 594, 601, 628, 650, 800, 805, 1249. He was a justice of the peace in New Hanover, 
Bladen, Craven, and Onslow.— Col. Rec, IV, 218, 275, 346, 347, 814, 1239. He served also as 
collector of the customs at the port of Brunswick.- Col. Rec, IV, 395, 725, 998, 1287; and aa 
road commissioner for Onslow county. State Records, XXIII, 221. His will, dated No- 
vember 13, 1756, was probated in January, 1757.— Abstracts, 188. His wife having died of 
child-birth in 1751 (letter to his son), his family at the time of his death consisted of two sons, 
Samuel and John, and five daughters, Jane, Penelope, Isabelle, Ann, and Hannah. To 
his sons he devised 6,500 acres of land, and to his daughters land and slaves.— Abstracts, 
188. 

sGovernor Josiah Martin, writing of Johnston, to Lord George Germain, May 17, 1777, 
says; "This Gentleman, my Lord, was educated in New England, where * * * it 
may be supposed he received that bent to Democracy which he has manifested upon all 
occasions."— Col. Rec, X, 401. Letters from his father, addressed to him while he was at 
school in New Haven, Conn., bear dates from 1750 to 1753. I have not been able to ascer- 
tain what school he attended. In 1754 he went to Edenton to study law under Thomas 
Barker. 



Sam IK J, .l(iii.N>i<».\. 7 

the Spectator and the Tatler, and followed with synipa- 
thetic interest the fortunes of Sir Charles Grandison and 
Clarisj^a Ilarlowe. They kept in close touch with political 
events in England, studied critically the Parliamentary de- 
bates, and among themselves discussed great constitutional 
questions with an ai3ility that would have done honor to the 
most learned lawyers of the Inner Temj)le/ Within the 
town and its immediate vicinity dwelt John llarvey, Joseph 
Hewes, Edward Buncombe, Stephen CabaiTus, and, after 
1768, James Iredell. Preceding Iredell by a little more than 
a decade came Samuel Johnston, possessed of an ample for- 
tune, a vigorous and penetrating intellect, and a sound and 
varied learning, which soon won for him a place of preemi- 
nence in the province. "He bore," says McRee, "the greatest 
weight of care and labor as the mountain its crown of granite. 
His powerful frame was a fit engine for the vigorous intellect 
that gave it animation. Strength was his characteristic. In 
his relations to the public, an inflexible sense of duty and 
justice dominated. There was a remarkable degree of self- 
reliance and majesty about the man. His erect carriage and 
his intolerance of indolence, meanness, vice, and wrong, gave 
to him an air of sternness. He commanded the respect and 
admiration, but not the love of the people." * At Edenton, 
surrounded by a group of loyal friends, Johnston entered 
upon the practice of his profession and in 1759 began a pub- 
lic career which, for length of service, extremes of political 
fortime, and lasting contributions to the welfare of the State, 
still stands unsurpassed in our history." 



'Sec the picture of Edenton society drawn by James Iredell in his diary, printed in Mc- 
Ree's Iredell. 

•Iredell, I, ^7-ZS. 

•He was twelve times elected to the Cieneral Assembly, serving from 17.59 to 1775, inclusive. 
On April 2.5, 176S, he was appointed Clerk of the Coiirt for the IMonton District. In 1770 
he was appointed Deputy N'aval Officer of the province, but w.ia removed by CIov. Martin, 
Nov. 16, 1775, on account of his activity in the revolutionary niovenicnt. Dec. S, 1773, ho 
wa« selected as one of the Committee of Continental Correspondence appointed by the (ien- 
eral Assembly. He served in the first four Provincial ConcTes.>«?9. which met Aur. 25, 1774, 
April 3, 1775. AuR. 20, 1775, and April 4. 1776. Of the third and fourth he was elected Presi- 
dent. The Congress, Sept. 8, 1775, elected him Treasurer for the Northern District. .Sept. 



8 Samuel Johnston. 

Johuston's public career covered a period of forty-four 
years and embraced every branch of the public service. As 
legislator, as delegate to four provincial congresses, as presi- 
dent of two constitutional conventions, as member ot the 
Continental Congress, as judge, as governor, as United States 
Senator, he rendered services to the State and I^ation which 
rank him second to none among the statesmen of North Caro- 
lina. Time does not permit me today to dwell on all these 
points of his career, and I must content myself with inviting 
your attention to his services in just three of the great crises 
of our history : First, in organizing the Ec volution in North 
Carolina ; second, in framing the first state constitution ; 
third, in the ratification by North Carolina of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States. 

You are of course familiar with the principal events which 
led up to the outbreak of the Revolution. Johnston watched 
the course of these events with the keenest interest and the 
most profound insight. By inheritance, by training, and by 
conviction he was a conservative in politics. He clung tena- 
ciously to the things that were and viewed with apprehen- 
sion, if not with distrust, any tendency of those in power to 
depart from the beaten path marked out by time and experi- 
ence. It was not to be expected, therefore, that he, holding 
the principles of the British Constitution in great reverence, 
would look with favor upon departures from those principles 
so radical as those proposed by the British Ministry. It has 
frequently been pointed out that in the American Revolution 

9, 1775, he was selected as the member-at-large of the Provincial Council, the executive body 
of the revolutionary government. The Provincial Council, Oct. 20, 1775, elected him Pay- 
master of Troops for the Edenton District. Dec. 21, 1776, he was appointed by the Provin- 
cial Congress a commissioner to codify the laws of the State. In 1779, 1783, 1784 he repre- 
sented Chowan county in the State Senate. The General Assembly, July 12, 1781, elected 
him a delegate to the Continental Congress. In 1785 the States of New York and Massa- 
chusetts selected him as one of the commissioners to settle a boundary line dispute between 
them. He was three times elected Governor of North Carolina, Dec. 12, 1787, Nov. 11, 1788, 
and Nov. 14, 1789. He resigned tiie governorship in Dec, 1789 to accept election to the 
United States Senate, being the first Senator from North Carolina. In 1788 and 1789 he was 
President of the two Constitutional Conventions, at Hillsboro and Fayetteville, called to 
consider the ratification of the Federal Constitution. Dec. 11, 1789 he was elected a trustee 
of the University of North Carolina. From 1800 to 1803 he served as Superior Court Judge. 
He died in 1816. 



SaMTKI, .1 oil NS ton. 9 

England and not America represented the radical position. 
The Americans lield to the British Constitution as they had 
received it from their fathers, they protested against the inno- 
vations of the Ministry, and they went to war to consen-e the 
])riiiciples of English liberty as they had been handed down 
from time immemorial. They were the true conservatives. 
This, too, was the point of view of such British statesmen as 
Fox, and Pitt, iiiid Bnrko, and Rockingham. In this contest, 
accordingly, there could be but one place for Samuel John- 
ston, — inheritance, education, conviction, all carried him at 
once into the camp of the Whig party. 

From the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 Johnston 
maintained a firm and decided stand against every step taken 
by the British ^linistry to subject the colonies in their local 
affairs to the jurisdiction of Parliament. A special signifi- 
cance attaches to his services. His birth in Scotland, his 
residence in Xorth Carolina, his education in Connecticut, 
his intimate correspondence with friends in England, all 
served to lift him above any narrow, contracted, provincial 
view of the contest and fitted him to be what he certainly 
was, the leader in North Carolina in the great continental 
movement which finally resulted in the American Union. 
Union was the great bugbear of the King and Ministry, and 
for some years before the actual outbreak of the Revolution 
an important object of their policy was to prevent the union 
of the colonies. They sought, therefore, as far as possible, to 
avoid all measures which, by giving them a common griev- 
ance, would also afford a basis upon which they could unite. 
In order to accomplish this purpose more effectively acts of 
Parliament to a large extent gave way in the government of 
the colonies to instructions from the King issued to the royal 
governors. These instructions the governors were reqnired 
to consider as of higher authority than acts of the assemblies 
and as binding on both the governors and the assemblies. A 



10 Samuel Joiixston. 

set was not framed to apply to all the colonies alike, but 
special instructions were sent to each colony as local circum- 
stances dictated. Since these local circumstances differed so 
widely in the several colonies, the King and his ministers 
thought the patriots would not be able to find in these instruc- 
tions any common grievance to serv^e as a basis for union. 

In North Carolina the battle was fought out on three very 
important local measures which involved the financial policy 
of the province, the running of its southern boundary line, 
and the jurisdiction of the colonial courts. On all three the 
King issued positive instructions directing the course which 
the Assembly should pursue. Thus a momentous issue w^as 
presented for the consideration of its members : Should they 
permit the Assembly to degenerate into a mere machine whose 
highest function was to register the will of the Sovereign ; 
or should they maintain it as the Constitution and their char- 
ters intended it to be, a free, deliberative, law-making body, 
responsible for its acts only to the people ? Upon their answer 
to this question it is not too much to say hung the fate of the 
remotest posterity in this State. I record it as one of the 
proudest events in our history, beside which the glories of 
Moore's Creek, Kings Mountain, Guilford Court House, and 
even of Gettysburg itself pale into insignificance, that the 
Assembly of North Carolina had the insight to perceive their 
problem clearly, the courage to meet it boldly, and the states- 
manship to solve it wisely. 

"Appointed by the people [they declared] to watch over their 
rights and privileges, and to guard them from every encroachment 
of a private and public nature, it becomes our duty and will be our 
constant endeavor to preserve them secure and inviolate to the 
present age, and to transmit them unimpaired to posterity. * * * 
The rules of right and wrong, the limits of the prerogative of the 
Crown and of the privileges of the people are, in the present re- 
fined age, well known and ascertained; to exceed either of them 
is highly unjustifiable." lo 



'"For a more extended account of thia great contest, see my Cornelius Harnett: An Es- 
say in North Carolina History, 68-78. 



Samuel Jcjhnston. 11 

Hurling this declaration into the face of the royal governor 
the Assembly peremptorily refused obedience to the royal in- 
structions. In this momentous affair Samuel Johnston st<x>d 
fully abreast of the foremost in maintaining the dignity of 
the Assembly, the independence of the judiciary, and the 
right of the people to self-government. With unclouded 
vision he sav^^ straight through the policy of the King and 
stood forth a more earnest advocate of union than ever. He 
urged the appointment of the committees of correspondence 
throughout the continent, served on the Xorth Carolina com- 
mittee, and favored the calling of a Continental Congress. 
When John Harvey, in the spring of 1774, suggested a pro- 
vincial congress, Johnston gave the plan his powerful sup- 
port, ^^ and when the Congress met at Xew Bern, August 25, 
1774, he was there as one of the members from Chowan. 
Upon the completion of its business this Congress authorized 
Johnston, in the event of Harvey's death, to summon another 
congress whenever he should deem it necessary. No more fit 
successor to Harvey could have been found. Johnston's un- 
impeachable personal character commanded the respect of the 
Loyalists,^" his known conservatism w^as a guarantee that the 
revolutionary program under his leadership would be con- 
ducted with proper regard for the rights of all and in an 
orderly manner, and his thorough sympathy with the spirit 
and purposes of the movement assured the loyal support of 
the entire Whig party. How thoroughly he sympathized with 
the whole program is set forth in the following letter written 
to an English friend who once resided in North Carolina : 

"You will not wonder [he writes] at my being more warmly af- 
fected with affairs of America than you seem to be. I came over so 
early and am now so riveted to it by my connections that I can not 



"Col. Rec. X. 968. 

".Vrchibnld Neilson, a prominent Loyalist whom Gov. Martin appointed Johnston's 
successor as Deputy Naval Officer, wrote to James Iredell, July 8, 1775: ' "For Mr. Johnston, 
I have the truc.it e.s teem and reeard. In these times, in spite of my opinion of his Judgment, 
in spite of mystelf — I tremble for him. He is in an arduous .-(ituation: the eyes of all — more 
especially of the friends of order — are anxiously fixed on him." — McRcc's Iredell, I, 260. 



1:^ Samuel JoHNSTOisr. 

help feeling for it as if it were my nataJe solum. The ministry from 
the time of passing the Declaratory Act, on the repeal of the Stamp 
Act, seemed to have used every opportunity of teasing and fretting 
the people here as if on purpose to draw them into rebellion or some 
violent opposition to Government. At a time when the inhabitants 
of Boston were every man quietly employed about their own private 
affairs, the wise members of your House of Commons on the au- 
thority of ministerial scribbles declare they are in a state of open 
rebellion. On the strength of this they pass a set of laws which 
from their severity and injustice can not be carried into execution 
but by a military force, which they have very wisely provided, being 
conscious that no people who had once tasted the sweets of freedom 
would ever submit to them except in the last extremity. They have 
now brought things to a crisis and God only knows where it will 
end. It is useless, in disputes between different countries, to talk 
about the right which one has to give laws to the other, as that 
generally attends the power, though where that power is wantonly or 
cruelly exercised, there are instances where the weaker State has 
resisted with success; for when once the sword is drawn all nice 
distinctions fall to the ground; the difference between internal and 
external taxation will be little attended to, and it will hereafter be 
considered of no consequence whether the act be to regulate trade 
or raise a fund to support a majority in the House of Commons. By 
this desperate push the ministry will either confirm their power of 
making laws to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever, or give up 
the right of making laws to bind them in any case." is 

This is a very remarkable letter. Consider first of all its 
date. It was written at Edenton, September 23, 1774. At 
that time the boldest radicals in America, even such men as 
Samnel Adams, of Massachusetts; Patrick Henry, of Vir- 
ginia ; Cornelius Harnett, of North Carolina, scarcely dared 
breathe the word independence. But here is Samuel John- 
ston, most couserA^ative of revolutionists, boldly declaring that 
the contest between England and her colonies was a dispute 
''between different countries," and threatening an appeal to 
arms to decide whether the British Parliament should make 
laws ''to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever," or be 
compelled to surrender "the right of making laws to bind 



»To Alexander Elmsley, of London. — Col. Rec, IX, 1071. 



Sa.mlkl 'Ioiixstox. 13 

tliom ill any case." The man who ventured this hold declara- 
tion was no unknown individual, safe from ministerial wrath 
by reason of his obscurity, but was the foremost statesman 
of an important colony, and his name was not unfamiliar to 
those who gathered in the council chamber of the King. 

The death of John Harvey in ]May, 1775, left Samuel 
Johnston the undisputed leader of the revolutionary party in 
North Carolina. In July he issued a call for a congress to 
meet in Hillsboro, August 20, and of this Congress he was 
nnanimonsly chosen president. Until now Josiah Martin, 
the royal governor, had cherished the hope that Johnston 
would not go to the extreme of rebellion but that he would 
ultimately break wath the Whig party and throw the great 
weight of his influence on the side of the royal government. 
Consequently early in the struggle, in very flattering terms, 
^Inrtin had offered to recommend Johnston to the King for 
appointment to the next vacancy in the Council; and had re- 
frained from removing him from his position as the deputy 
naval officer of the colony, "notwithstanding," he wrote, "I 
had found him uniformly in opposition to every measure of 
Government during my administration." ^* But now any 
further forbearance toward Johnston would be disloyalty to 
the King, and accordingly on October 7, 1775, the Governor 
addressed a letter to him notifying him of his removal. ''The 
respect I have entertained for your private character," he 
said, had restrained him from taking this step heretofore; 
but now duty to his Royal Master would not permit his taking 
upon himself "the guilt of conniving at the undutiful be- 
havior of one of the King's servants" in appearing "in the 
conspicuous character of ^Moderator of a popular Assembly 
unknown to the laws and constitution of this province. 



'•Gov. Martin to Johnaton, Oct. 4, 1772: "In caae of a vacanry at the Council Roard 
I wish to know whether you will permit me to name you to the Kins; if it be aitrceable to 
you. I shall be much flattered by an opportunity of makine so honorable an acquisition to 
the Council of this Province."— Col. Rec, IX, 342. See also Martin to Lord Dartmouth, 
Col. Rec. IX, 1053; and to Lord Germain, X, 401. 



14 Samuel Johnston. 

* * * And [be coutiiuied] I have seen with greater sur- 
prise, if possible, yonr acceptance of the appointment of 
treasurer of the northern district of this colony, nnconstitii- 
tionally and contrary to all law and usage conferred upon 
you by this body of your own creation," ^^ To this communi- 
cation Johnston replied in a letter of biting sarcasm but a 
model of courtesy and good taste. "It gives me pleasure," 
he said, referring to the Governor's reasons for his removal, 
"that I do not find neglect of duties of my office in the cata- 
logue of my crimes," and then continued : 

"At the same time that I hold myself obliged to your Excellency 
for the polite manner in which you are pleased to express yourself 
of my private character, you will pardon me for saying that I think 
I have reason to complain of the invidious point of view in which 
you are pleased to place my public transactions when you consider 
the late meeting of the delegates or deputies of the inhabitants of 
this province at Hillsborough, a body of my own creation. Your 
Excellency cannot be ignorant that I was a mere instrument in this 
business under the direction of the people; a people among whom I 
have long resided, and who have on all occasions placed the great- 
est confidence in me, to whose favorable opinion I owe everything I 
possess and to whom I am bound by gratitude (that most powerful 
and inviolable tie on every honest mind) to render every service 
they can demand of me, in defense of what they esteem their just 
rights, at the risk of my life and property. 

You will further. Sir, be pleased to understand, that I never con- 
sidered myself in the honorable light in which you place me, one 
of the king's servants; being entirely unknown to those who have 
the disposal of the king's favors, I never enjoyed nor had I a right 
to expect, any office under his Majesty. The oflfice which I have for 
some years past executed under the deputation of Mr. Turner was 
an honest purchase for which I have punctually paid an annual sum, 
which I shall continue to pay till the expiration of the term for 
which I should have held it agreeably to our contract. 

Permit me. Sir, to add that had all the king's servants in this 
province been as well informed of the disposition of the inhabitants 
as they might have been and taken the same pains to promote and 
preserve peace, good order, and obedience to the laws among them, 
that I flatter myself I have done, the source of your Excellency's 



liiCol. Rec, X, 262. 



Sam II. I. .I<>ii.\.~ ION. 1.") 

unnecessary lamentations had not at this day existed, or had it 
existed it would have been in so small a depiree that ere this it 
would have been nearly exhausted; but, Sir, a recapitulation of 
errors which it is now too late to correct would be painful to me 
and might appear Impertinent to your Excellency. I shall decline 
the ungrateful task, and beg leave, with all due respect, to subscribe 
myself. Sir, your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant." i'> 

At the beginning of the Revolutit.ri Johnston, In c-oninion 
with the other Whig leaders throughout the continent, dis- 
claimed any purpose of declaring independence. But once 
caught in the full sweep of the revolutionary movement they 
were carried along from one position to another until, by the 
opening of the year 1776, they had reached a situation which 
admitted of no other alternative. As North Carolina was the 
first colony to take the lead in demanding independence, so 
Samuel Johnston was among the first advocates of it in North 
Carolina. Writing !March 3, 1776, he expressed the opinion 
that the future might ''offer a more favorable opportunity for 
throwing off our connection with Great Britain," but imme- 
diately added : 

"It is, however, highly improbable from anything that I have yet 
been able to learn of the disposition of the people at home, from the 
public papers, for I have not lately received any letters, that the 
colonies will be under the necessity of throwing off their allegiance 
to the king and Parliament of Great Britain this summer. If France 
and Spain are hearty and sincere in our cause, or sufficiently ap- 
prised of the importance of the connection with us to risk war with 
Great Britain, we shall undoubtedly succeed; if they are irresolute 
and play a doubtful game I shall not think our success so certain." 

March 20, Joseph Ilewes writing from Philadelphia, 

where he was in attendance on the Continental Congress, 

asked Johnston for his views on the subject of independence. 

In reply Johnston said : 

"I am inclined to think with you that there is little prospect of 
an accommodation. You wish to know my sentiments on the sub- 
jects of treating with foreign powers and the independence of the 

>«Col. Rec., X. 332. 



10 Samuel Johnston. 

colonies. I have apprehensions that no foreign power will treat 
with us till we disclaim our dependence on Great Britain and I 
would wish to have assurances that they would afford us effectual 
service before we take that step. I have, I assure you, no other 
scruples on this head; the repeated insults and injuries w^e have 
received from the people of my native island has (sic) done away 
all my partiality for a connection with them and I have no appre- 
hensions of our being able to establish and support an independence 
if France and Spain would join us cordially and risk a war with 
Great Britain in exchange for our trade." it 

Wlieii the fourth Provincial Congress, at Johnston's sum- 
mons, met at Halifax, April 4, 1776, the entire patriot party 
was fully abreast of his position on the subject of independ- 
ence. "All our people here," he wrote, April 5, "are up for 
independence"; and a few days later he added: "We are 
going to the devil -' * ''"^ wdthout knowing how to help 
ourselves, and though many are sensible of this, yet they 
would rather go that way than to submit to the British Min- 
istry. " * * Our people are full of the idea of inde- 
pendence." In compliance with this popular sentiment, the 
Congress, April 12, adopted its famous resolution empower- 
ing the North Carolina delegates in the Continental Congress 
"to concur with the delegates of the other colonies in declar- 
ing independency and forming foreign alliances." ^^ 

Samuel Johnston had now reached the climax of his in- 

/ fluence and popularity, for by his election to the presidency 

of the Provincial Congress he had attained the highest posi- 

; tion in public life to which a citizen of Korth Carolina in 

I 177 G could aspire. The next few years were for him a period 

I of eclipse. Deceived by the specious insinuations of his po- 

I litical opponents his constituents were led to discard his 

\ leadership and to accept that of men of fairer promises but 

of smaller achievements. 

Immediately after declaring for independence the Con- 

"Ms. letter in the library at "Hayes." 

"For a full discussion of the movement toward independence, see my Cornelius Harnett, 
Chap. X. 



Sa.nu kl Joiinstox. 17 

^ess at Halifax ajjpointed a committee ''to prepare a tempo 
rary civil constitution." Among its members were Johnston, 
Harnett, Abner Xasli, Thomas Burke, Thnnuis Person, and 
William Hooper. They were (as I have said in another 
place)"* men of political sagacity and ability, but their ideas 
of the kind of constitution that ought to be adopted were woe- 
fully inharmonious. Heretofore in the measures of resist- 
ance to the British Ministry remarkable unanimity had pre- 
vailed in the councils of the Whigs. But when they under- 
took to frame a constitution faction at once raised its head. 
Historians have designated these factions as "Conservatives" 
and ''Radicals," terms which carry their own meaning and 
need no further explanation. However it may not be out of 
place to observe here that while both were equally devoted to 
constitutional liberty, the Radicals seem to have placed the 
greater emphasis on the noun, liberty, the Conservatives on its 
modifier, constitutional. The leader of the fonner was un- 
doubtedly Willie Jones, while no one could have been found 
to question the supremacy of Samuel Johnston among the 
latter. Congress soon found that no agreement between the 
two could be reached while continued debate on the constitu- 
tion would only consume time which ought to be given to 
more pressing matters. Consequently the committee was dis- 
charged and the adoption of a constitution was postponed till 
the next meeting of Congress in November. Thus the contest 
was removed from Congress to the people and Ijecame the 
leading issue of the election in October. 

Willie Jones and his faction detennined that Samuel John- 
ston should not have a seat in the November Congress, and 
at once began against him a campaign famous in our history 
for its violence. Democracy exulting in a freedom too newly 
acquired for it to have learned the virtue of self-restraint, 
struck blindly to right and left and laid low some of the 



"•Cornelius Harnett, 152. 



18 Samuel Johnston. 

sturdiest champions of constitutional liberty in the province. 
The contest raged fiercest in Chowan. "No means," says 
McRee, "were spared to poison the minds of the people ; to 
inflame their prejudices ; excite alarm ; and sow in them, by 
indefinite charges and whispers, the seeds of distrust. * * * 
It were bootless now to inquire what base arts prevailed, or 
what calumnies were propagated. Mr. Johnston was defeated. 
The triumph was celebrated with riot and debauchery; and 
the orgies were concluded by burning Mr. Johnston in 
effigy." '' 

From that day to this much nonsense has been written and 
spoken about Johnston's hostility to democracy and his hank- 
ering after the fleshpots of monarchy, and the admirers of 
Willie Jones from then till now have expected us to believe 
that the man who for ten years had been willing to sacrifice 
his fortune, his ease, his peace of mind, his friends and fam- 
ily, and life itself, to overthrow the rule of monarchy was 
ready, immediately upon the achievement of that end, to con- 
spire with his fellow-workers against that liberty which they 
had suffered so much to preserve. That Johnston did not 
believe in the "infallibility of the popular voice" ; that he 
thought it right in a democracy for minorities to have suffi- 
cient safeguards against the tyranny of majorities ; that he 
considered intelligence and experience more likely to conduct 
a government successfully than ignorance and inexperience, 
is all true enough. But that he also ascribed fully to the 
sentiment that all governments "derive their just powers 
from the consent of the governed" ; that he believed frequency 
of elections to be the surest safeguard of liberty; that he 
thought representatives should be held directly responsible to 
their constituents and to nobody else, we have not only his 
whole public career but his most solemn declarations to prove. 
He advocated, it is true, a government of energy and power, 



2»Iredel!, I, 334. 



Sami i:l .Iojinstun. 10 

but a government deriving its energy' and power wholly from 
the people. This is the very essence of true, genuine democ- 
racy. 

Although not a nu inbcr of the Congress which framed our 
first State Constitution, Johnston's duties as treasurer made 
it necessary for him to attend its session, and his })resence 
there exerted a most wholesome influence on the final draft 
of that instrnnifiit. In mere matters of policy he manifested 
but little interest; but there were three points of prime im- 
portance to be settled which would ultimately determine the 
character of the government about to be formed. These were, 
first, the degree of responsibility to the people to which rep- 
resentatives should be held ; second, the basis of the suffrage ; 
and third, the degree of independence to be accorded to the 
judiciary. On these three points Johnston felt and thought 
deeply, and exerted himself to have his views incorporated in 
the Constitution, 

In regard to the first he expressed himself as follows in a 
letter written from Halifax in April while the constitution 
was under consideration : 

"The great difficulty in our way is, how to establish a check on 
the representatives of the people, to prevent their assuming more 
power than would be consistent with the liberties of the people. 
♦ * • Many projects have been proposed too tedious for a letter to 
communicate. ♦ * * After all, it appears to me that there can be no 
check on the representatives of the people in a democracy but the 
people themselves; and in order that the check may be more efficient 
I would have annual elections." 21 

But by "the people," Johnston did not mean all the citizens 
of the State any more than we today, by the same term, mean 
to include all the citizens of the Commonwealth. Like us 
Johnston referred only to those citizens who were endowed 
with the franchise. lie did not believe in unrestricted man- 
hood suffrage. Such a basis he thought might be 'Svell 

«Iredell. I, 277. 



20 Sa.mukl Johnston. 

adapted to the government of a numerous, cultivated people," 
l)ut lie did not think North Carolina in 1776 was ready for 
any such untried experiment, and he advocated, therefore, a 
property qualification. On this point he was "in great pain 
for the honor of the province" and viewed with alarm the 
tendency to turn the government over to "a set of men without 
reading, experience, or principle to govern them." "'" 

But it was to the judiciary that he looked to safeguard the 
rights of the individual citizen, and in order that this safe- 
guard might be the more effective he wished it to be inde- 
pendent of the transitory passions of majorities. On this 
subject he spoke with more than his usual vigor. 

"God knows [he exclaimed] when there will be an end of this 
trifling here. A draft of the Constitution was presented to the 
House yesterday. * * * There is one thing in it which I cannot bear, 
and yet I am inclined to think it will stand. The inhabitants are 
impowered to elect the justices in their respective counties, who are 
to be the judges of the county courts. Numberless inconveniences 
must arise from so absurd an institution. -s They talk [he wrote 
later] of having all the officers, even the judges and clerks, elected 
annually, with a number of other absurdities." -* 

Johnston's alarm was needless. Under his guidance con- 
servative influences prevailed and a method of choosing judges 
in line with his views w^as adopted. In its final form the Con- 
stitution embodied to a large extent Johnston's views on all 
three of these cardinal points. It provided for a legislature 
of two chambers chosen annually, for a property qualification 
for electors for state senators, and for judges chosen by the 
General Assembly to serve during good behavior. 

I know of no more striking personal triumph in the history 
of ISTorth Carolina than this achievement of Johnston. Po- 
litically discredited by his own people, without the support 
of a ])owerful political party, and totally devoid of that glam- 



22To Thomas Burke.— State Rec, XI, 504. 

"To James Iredell.— Col. Rec., X, 1040. 

z<To Mrs. James Iredell.— McRee's Iredell, I, 339. 



Samuel Johnston. 21 

our and subtle influence which accompanies high official 
position, he had, through the convincing logic of his argu- 
ments, the trust inspired by his acknowledged wisdom, and 
the confidence imposed in his integi'ity, forced a hostile Con- 
vention to accept his views and lay the cornerstones of the 
Commonwealth on firm and solid grounds. How firmly he 
builded is shown by the fact that fifty-eight years passed be- 
fore annual sessions of the Assembly gave way to biennial 
sessions; seventy-nine years before the property (jnalification 
for electors for state senators was abolished; and ninety-one 
years before the election of judges was given to the people 
and their terms changed from good behavior to a term of 
years. Had Johnston been alive when those changes were 
proposed there can be no doubt that he would have advocated 
them. In 1776 he stood for a political system suitable to the 
physical, mental and moral conditions of the State at that 
period: in 1835 he would have done the same thing. As a 
practical statesman, more deeply conceinied in securing a 
good working system than in promulgating vague and uncer- 
tain theories, he would have been among the first to recognize 
the changed conditions wrought by fifty years of marvelous 
development, and to have advocated changes in the Constitu- 
tion in conformity with the changed spirit and needs of the 
time. 

Johnston's eclipse was temporary. Accepting his defeat 
philosophically, he withdrew after the framing of the Consti- 
tution from all participation in politics, and watched the 
course of events in silence. For assuming this attitude he 
has been severely censured, both by his contemporaries and 
by posterity, who have charged him with yielding to pique, 
and with being supine and indifferent to the welfare of the 
State because he could not conduct its affairs according to his 
own wishes.^' But is it not pertinent to ask what other 



••See letters of Archibald Maclaite to George Hooper.— State Rec., XVI. 957, 963. 



22 Samuel Johnston. 

course be could have pursued ? He was not an ordinary poli- 
tician. He bad no inordinate itcbing for public office. He 
was, indeed, ambitious to serve bis country, but bis country 
bad pointedly and empbatically repudiated bis leadership. 
Was it not, tben, tbe part of wisdom to bow to tbe decree ? 
Did not patriotism require bini to refrain from futile opposi- 
tion ? Tbe event clearly demonstrated tbat bis course was 
botb wise and patriotic, for tbe people soon came to tbeir 
sober second tbougbt and tbe reaction in Johnston's favor 
set in earlier than be could possibly bave anticipated. Tbey 
sent bim to tbe State Senate, tbe General Assembly elected 
bim treasurer, tbe Governor appointed bim to tbe bench, tbe 
General Assembly chose him a delegate to tbe Continental 
Congress, and the Continental Congress elected him its pre- 
siding officer."^ The reaction finally culminated in bis elec- 
tion as Governor in 1787, and bis relection in 1788 and again 
in 1789. Among the many interesting problems of bis ad- 
ministration were tbe settlement of Indian affairs, tbe ad- 
justment of the war debt, the treatment of tbe Loyalists, the 
cession of tbe western territory to the Federal Government, 
and the "State of Franklin" ; but today time does not permit 
tbat we consider his policy toward them. The chief issue of 
bis administration was the ratification of tbe Federal Consti- 
tution to tbe consideration of which we must devote a few 
moments. 

Tbe Convention to consider the new Constitution met at 
Hillsboro, July 21, 1788. "Conservatives" and "Eadicals," 
now rapidly crystallizing into political parties as Federalists 
and Anti-Federalists, arrayed themselves for tbe contest 
under their former leaders, Samuel Johnston and Willie 
Jones. The Anti-Federalists controlled the Convention by a 
large majority, nevertheless out of respect for his office they 
unanimously elected Governor Johnston president. All tbe 

"He declined to serve. 



Samukl Johnston. 23 

debates, however, were held in committee of the whole, and 
this plan, by calling Governor Johnston out of the chair, 
placed him in the arena in the very midst of the contest. 
Though he was the accepted leader of the Federalists, the 
burden of the debate fell upon the younger men, among whom 
James Iredell stood preeminent. Contesting preeminence 
with Iredell, but never endangering his position, were Wil- 
liam R. Davie, Archibald Maclaine, and Richard Dobbs 
Spaight. Governor Johnston but rarely indulged his great 
talent for debate, but when he did enter the lists he mani- 
fested such a candor and courtesy toward his opponents that 
he won their respect and confidence, and he spoke with such 
a "relentlcssness in reasoning" that but few cared to engage 
him in discussion. Johnston could not have been anything 
else than a Federalist. Since the signing of the treaty of 
peace with England the country had been drifting toward 
disunion and anarchy with a rapidity that alarmed conserva- 
tive and thoughtful men. The issue presented in 1787 and 
1788, therefore, was not the preservation of liberty but the 
prevention of anarchy, and on this issue there could be but 
one decision for Samuel Johnston. The day for the specu- 
lative theories and well-turned epigrams of the Declaration 
of Independence had passed ; the time for the practical pro- 
visions of the Federal Constitution had come. Consequently 
the debates at Hillsboro dealt less with theories of govern- 
ment than with the practical operations of the particular plan 
under consideration. 

In this plan Willie Jones and his followers saw all sorts 
of political hobgoblins, and professed to discover therein a 
purpose to destroy the autonomy of the States and to estab- 
lish a consolidated nation. They attacked the impeachment 
clause on the ground that it placed not only Federal Senators 
and Representatives, but also State officials and members of 
the State Legislatures completely at the mercy of the National 



24 Samuel Johnston. 

Congress. Johnston very effectively disposed of this ridicu- 
lous contention by pointing ont that "only officers of the 
United States were impeachable," and contended that Sen- 
ators and Representatives were not Federal officers but offi- 
cers of the States. Continuing he said : 

"I never knew any instance of a man being impeached for a legis- 
lative act; nay, I never heard it suggested before. A representative 
is answerable to no power but his constituents. He is accountable 
to no being under heaven but the people who appoint him. * * * Re- 
moval from office is the punishment, to which is added future dis- 
qualification. How can a man be removed from oflSce who has no 
office? An officer of this State is not liable to the United States. 
Congress cannot disqualify an officer of this State. No body can 
disqualify but the body which creates. * * * i should laugh at 
any judgment they should give against any officer of our own." 27 

But, said the opponents of the Constitution, "Congress is 
given power to control the time, place, and manner of electing 
senators and representatives. This clause does away with 
the right of the people to choose representatives every year" ; 
under it CongTess may j)ass an act ''to continue the members 
for twenty years, or even for their natural lives" ; and it 
plainly points "forward to the time when there will be no 
state legislatures, to the consolidation of all the states." To 
these arguments Johnston replied: 

"I conceive that Congress can have no other power than the 
States had. * * * -pj^e powers of Congress are all circumscribed, 
defined, and clearly laid down. So far they may go, but no farther. 
* * * They are bound to act by the Constitution. They dare 
not recede from it." 

All these arguments sound very learned and very eloquent, 
retorted the opponents of the Constitution, but the propose'd 
Constitution does not contain a bill of rights to "keep the 
States from being swallowed up by a consolidated govern- 



"Elliott's Debates. The following extracts from Johnston's speeches on the Consti- 
tution are all from the same source. 



Samuel Jounstox. 25 

mcnt.'' But Governor Johnston, in an exceedingly clear-cut 
argument, j)ointed out not only the absurdity but even the 
danger of including a bill of rights in the Constitution. 
Said he: 

"It appears to me. sir, that it would have been tlie hlgliost ab- 
surdity to undertake to define what rights the people of the United 
States are entitlefl to; for that would be as much as to say thoy are 
entitled to nothing else. A bill of rights may be necessary in a 
monarchial government whose powers are undefined. Were we in 
the situation of a monarchial country? No, sir. Every right could 
not be enumerated, and the omitted rights would be sacrificed if 
security arose from an enumeration. The Congress cannot assume 
any other powers than those expressly given them without a palpable 
violation of the Constitution. * * * in a monarchy all power may 
be supposed to be vested in the monarch, except what may be re- 
served by a bill of rights. In England, in every instance where the 
rights of the people are not declared, the prerogative of the king 
is supposed to extend. But in this country we say that what rights 
we do not give away remain with us." 

Though Johnston desired to throw all necessary safeguards 
around the rights of the people, he did not desire a Union 
that would be a mere rope of sand. The Union must have 
authority to enforce its decrees and maintain its integrity, 
and if he foresaw the rise of the doctrines of nullification and 
secession, he foresaw them only to expose what he thought 
was their fallacy. 

"The Constitution [he declared] must be the supreme law of the 
land, otherwise it will be in the power of any State to counteract the 
other States, and withdraw itself from the Union. The laws made 
in pursuance thereof by Congress, ought to be the supreme law of 
the land, otherwise any one state might repeal the laws of the 
Union at large. * * * Every treaty should be the supreme law 
of the land; without this, any one state might involve the whole 
union in war." 

Acts of Congress, however, must be in ''pursuance" of the 
powers granted by the Constitution, for Johnston had no 
sympathy with the notion that the courts must enforce acta 



20 Samuel Johnston. 

of legislative bodies regardless of their coiistitutionalitj. As 
he said : 

"When Congress makes a law in virtue of their [sic] constitu- 
tional authority, it will be actual law. * * * Every law consistent 
with the Constitution will have been made in pursuance of the 
powers granted by it. Every usurpation, or law repugnant to it, 
cannot have been made in pursuance of its powers. The latter will 
be nugatory and void." 

Johnston, of course, did not think the Constitution perfect 
and he was as aiixions as Willie Jones to have certain amend- 
ments made to it. Bnt he took the position that North Caro- 
lina, then the fourth of the thirteen States in population, 
would have more weight in securing amendments in the Union 
than out of it. Indeed, he reasoned, as long as the State re- 
mains out of the Union there is no constitutional way in 
which she can propose amendments. Accordingly, as the 
leader of the Federalists, on July 30. he offered a resolution : 

"That though certain amendments to the said Constitution may 
be wished for, yet that those amendments should be proposed sub- 
sequent to the ratification on the part of this State, and not previous 
to it." 

Willie Jones promptly rallied his followers against this 
action and defeated Johnston's resolution by a vote of 184 to 
84. Then after proposing a series of amendments, including 
a bill of rights, the Convention, by the same vote of 184 to 
84, refused to ratify the Constitution and, August 2, ad- 
journed sine die. 

Thus a second time, in a second great political crisis, 
Willie Jones triumphed over his rival ; but again, as in 
177G, his triumph was short-lived. With wise forethought 
Iredell and Davie had caused the debates of the Conven- 
tion to be reported and published, and through them ap- 
pealed from the Convention to the people. How far these 
debates influenced public opinion it is of course impossible to 
say, but certain it is that no intelligent, impartial reader can 



Sa.mlki, Johnston. 27 

rise from their perusal without Ix'ing convinced that the 
Federalists had much the better of the argument. I'uhlic 
opinion so far shifted toward the Federalists' position that 
when the second Convention met at Fayetteville, November 
16, 1789, the Federalists had a larger majority than their 
opponents had had the year before. Again Samuel Johnston 
was unanimously elected president. The debates of this Con- 
vention were not reported ; indeed, the debates of the former 
Convention had rendered further discussion unnecessary. The 
people of the State had read those debates and had recorded 
their decision by sending to the Convention a Federalist ma- 
jority of more than one hundred. Accordingly after a brief 
session of only six days the Convention, November 21, 1789, 
by a vote of 195 to 77, ratified the Constitution of the United 
States and North Carolina reentered the Federal Union. It 
has been so frequently affirmed that in North Carolina it is 
today very generally believed that this action of the Conven- 
tion of 1789 was due to the adoption of the first ten amend- 
ments to the Federal Constitution ; and, further, that the 
action of Willie Jones and his party in rejecting the Consti- 
tution in 1788 forced Congress to submit these amendments. 
In the interest of historical accuracy let us for just a mo- 
ment examine this statement. A few dates quickly dispose 
of the matter. The North Carolina Convention rejected the 
Constitution August 2, 1788. On November 17, of the same 
year, the General Assembly passed the resolution calling a 
second Convention. It was not until September 25, 1789, 
nearly a year later, that Congress submitted the first ten 
amendments to the several States. When the North Carolina 
Convention met at Fayetteville, November 16, 1789, not a 
single State had acted on these amendments, and more than a 
year passed after North Carolina had ratified the Constitu- 
tion before the required number of States had accepted the 
amendments, ^[oreover, when the Convention met at Fay- 



28 Samuel Joiixston. 

etteville, in 1789, the oj^poiients of the Constitution still 
urged its rejection because the amendments which had been 
proposed did not meet the objections of the former Conven- 
tion in "some of the great and most exceptional parts" of the 
Constitution. The only result of the action of Jones and his 
party in 1788, therefore, was to keep N^orth Carolina out of 
the Union for a year and thus to prevent the State's casting 
her vote for George Washington as the first President of the 
United States. 

The privilege of transmitting the resolution of ratification 
to the President of the United States and of receiving from 
him an acknowledgment of his sincere gratification at this 
important event, fell to the lot of Samuel Johnston. It was 
fitting, too, that he who, for more than twenty years, had 
stood among the statesmen of North Carolina as the very 
personification of the spirit of union and nationalism should 
he the first to represent the State in the Federal Senate. Of 
his services there I can not speak today more than to say that 
he represented the interests of North Carolina with the same 
fidelity to convictions and courage in the discharge of his 
duties which had always characterized his course in public 
life ; and that on the great national issues of the day he lifted 
himself far above the narrow provincialism which character- 
ized the politics of North Carolina at that time and stood 
forth in the Federal Senate a truly national statesman. It 
had been well for North Carolina and her future position in 
the Union had she adhered to the leadership of Johnston, 
Davie, Iredell and the men who stood with them, — men too 
wise to trifle with their principles, too sincere to conceal their 
convictions, and too brave and high-minded to mislead their 
people even for so great a reward as popular favor. But in 
the loud and somewhat blatant politics of that day these men 
could play no part, and one by one they were gradually forced 
from public life to make way for other leaders who possessed 



Samuei- Joi[nstox. 29 

neither their wisdinn, their sincerity, nor their courage. In 
1793, Samuel J(»hiiston retired from the Senate, and, except 
for a brief term on the bench, spent the remaining twenty- 
three years of his life in the full enjoyment of his hajjpy 
family circle. 

Thus, ^Ir. Grand blaster, I have endeavored to point out, 
as briefly as possible, why it is that we deem Samuel John- 
ston worthy of a niche under the stately dome of our Capitol 
in company with Graham, and Ransom, and .Morehcad. On 
the mere score of office-holding he surpassed any of them; 
indeed, his career in this respect has not been surpassed by 
any other in our history. But in the fierce light of History 
what a paltry thing is the mere holding of pnblic office; and 
how quickly posterity forgets those who present no other 
claim to fame. Posterity remembers and honors him only 
who to other claims adds those of high character, lofty ideals, 
and unselfish service ; whose only aims in public life are the 
maintenance of law, the establishment of justice, and the 
presen-ation of lil^erty ; who pursues these ends with a fixity 
of purpose which never weakens, a tenacity which never 
slackens, and a deteraiination which never wavers. Measur- 
ing Samuel Johnston by this standard, I am prepared to say 
that among the statesmen of North Carolina he stands with- 
out a superior. Indeed, taking him all in all, it seems to me 
that he approaches nearer than any man in our history to 
Tennyson's fine ideal of the ^'Patriot Statesman." 

O Patriot Statesman, be thou wise to know 
The limits of resistance, and the bounds 
Determining concession; still be bold 
Not only to slight praise but suffer scorn; 
And be thy heart a fortress to maintain 
The day against the moment, and the year 
Against the day; thy voice, a music heard 
Thro' all the yells and counter-yells of feud 
And faction, and thy will, a power to make 
This ever-changing world of circumstance, 
In changing, chime to never-changing Law. 



LIBRftRY OF CONGRESS 

llllllllllllllllllllillllllllllillllllllllllllllllllll 



014 423 508 3 % 



LIBRARY 



001^ 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



014 423 508 3 •